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Under current Florida laws, anyone who steals between $300 and $20,000 is subject to a $5,000 fine and up to five years in jail. But a new proposal which was passed by the Florida Senate last Friday would change the penalties for shoplifting items valued between $100 and $600. Rather than facing charges of felony grand theft, the person would receive a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.

Florida’s theft laws have not changed since 1986, and one lawmaker explained that a $300 camera back then would now cost around $600 due to inflation. The new law also could mean 76 fewer people sentenced to prison next year for shoplifting, which would save the state over $700,000.

As the law stands now, persons who commit petit theft or shoplifting and have previously been convicted of theft at least twice gets charged with a felony of the third degree. If the property stolen is valued between $20,000 and $100,000, then the act is considered a second degree felony. A first degree felony charge when the property is valued over $100,000.

Fla. lawmakers providing for inflation in crime, Palm Beach Post, April 24, 2009 Continue reading

Palm Beach DUI Lawyer, Douglas I. Leifert has learned that the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting enhanced DUI enforcement starting at 6:00 tonight.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office is intending to increase their presence for DUI detection in unincorporated areas of Palm Beach County. The effort is expected to last until 4:00 a.m. on April 25, 2009.

Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office plans DUI patrol tonight, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 24, 2009.
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robbery.jpgLast week, the Broward Sheriff’s Office announced that they believe the 28 robberies of 7-Eleven and other stores were all committed by the same suspect, an armed man wearing saggy pants and a green mask.

The robberies date back to November, but the most recent incident occurred at 4am on Thursday at a 7-Eleven in Oakland Park. No one was injured, but the Broward Sheriff’s office said it has had enough.

Over half of the robberies in Broward County and West Palm County were at 7-Eleven convenience stores. The robber also held up a Subway, a Walgreens, and KFC. 7-Eleven has offered a $10,000 reward for the suspect’s arrest and Crime Stoppers is adding an additional $2,500, bringing the total to $12,500.

Most of the incidents occurred during the early hours of the morning. Surveillance videos show a male between 5 foot 9 and 6 feet tall, weighing between 170 and 180 pounds.

BSO: Same robber responsible for 28 stickups of 7-Elevens, other stores in Broward, Palm Beach counties, South Florida Sun Sentinel, April 16, 2009 Continue reading

car_crash_Florida2.jpgWhen a Pensacola college student rear-ended another driver, it crushed the front of his own car. Then he got billed $714 by the county police and firefighters who responded to the car accident. The fee has been called a “crash tax,” and on Monday a Florida Senate committee voted unanimously to approve a proposed ban on so-called crash taxes. Six other states have already banned them, since they are not always covered by auto insurance and many consider them unfair.

However, many municipalities say they are a necessary fee to cover the time that police and firefighters take away from other duties. They say that declining property taxes and smaller budgets make the fee a necessity.

In Escambia County, Florida drivers are assessed a fee regardless of whether they are a resident. Officials decide who is at fault and charge that person $10 for every minutes of a firefighter’s time and an additional $600 for a fire engine. The county waives the fees if a resident’s car insurance doesn’t cover it. The county has collected $19,000 since the fee began in 2007.

Minor fender-bender? That’ll be $700, please, Palm Beach Post Continue reading

Florida_burglary.jpgThe Florida Department of Law Enforcement released its 2008 crime statistics on Friday. The report showed that overall the Florida crime rate decreased approximately 2.8 % from 2007 to 2008. Violent crime dropped statewide, while larcenies and burglaries rose.

In Broward County, overall crime increased by less than 4%, although the population of the county dropped at the same time. In particular, Broward saw increases in the number of rapes, larcenies, and burglaries.

In Palm Beach County, the crime rate dropped in every category but murder. According to the report, the number of murders remained at 96. Overall, Palm Beach Country’s crime rate dropped by nearly 4%.

Crime up in Broward, down in Palm Beach County, FDLE says, South Florida Sun Sentinel, April 16, 2009 Continue reading

college_students.jpgOn Tuesday night, University of Florida police arrested a man who is suspected of inappropriately touching several female students on campus. Police had warned students Monday night after a woman reported being assaulted near Fine Arts Building C.

According to the victim’s account, the man approached her and said there was a large insect on her back. He then started brushing her back and told her the insect had crawled under her shirt and down the back of her pants. The suspect also tried to put his hand down her pants without her consent. Detectives at UR say there may be as many as 30 women who are possible victims of sexual battery.

As of Wednesday morning, Robin Garg, a 22-year-old student at UF, was being held without bond at the Alachua County jail on charges of battery. He was arrested near the Marston Science Library and was caught after trying to run from officers. According to Lt. Robert Wagner, it is likely that Garg will get additional charges.

UF police arrest man who groped woman on campus,, April 15, 2009 Continue reading

Florida_police_cruiser.jpgAccording to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) no longer has the funds to help local police agencies with major gang and drug investigations. During the current fiscal year, which ends in June, the FDLE cut $6 million from its $340 budget and dropped 96 positions. The budget cuts have led to backlogs in Florida’s criminal records systems and local police agencies receiving less guidance on complex cases.

For over ten years, the FDLE has focused on specialized fields such as criminal profiling and online databases, including a public list of all Florida sex offenders. Under proposals to Florida’s 2009-2010 budget, all of those functions could be cut, as well as hundreds of jobs. The proposal would close almost all of FDLE’s field offices, including those in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

However, local police agencies in South Florida say that the changes will have a greater impact on law operations elsewhere in the state, because they are already equipped to handle high-profile investigations on their own. In Broward and Palm Beach counties, the Sheriff’s offices run their own labs.

A spokesmen for the Broward Sheriff’s office said “we are really not dependent on FDLE for anything.”

Florida Department of Law Enforcement faces large budget cuts, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 12, 2009 Continue reading

Florida%20teacher.jpgA Palm Beach County middle school teacher was charged with two felonies on Monday after the corpses of her two cats were discovered at her Boca Raton apartment on February 23. Boca Raton Criminal Lawyer Douglas Leifert has learned that Allison Dinsmore, 26, was originally accused of misdemeanor animal cruelty, but Palm Beach County prosecutors increased the charges to two counts of felony cruelty to animals. Each count carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in jail.

Phone messages and emails to Dinsmore and her defense attorney went unanswered. In February, Dinsmore told police that she couldn’t remember the last time she had been at her home in Boca Raton, because she’d been spending a lot of time at her boyfriend’s and working long hours at the middle school. However, she thought she’d left food and water for the cats.

According to Boca Raton investigators, the cats had been dead for about a month before the corpses were uncovered by an apartment manager. The manager also found signs of a frantic search for food and water.

Source: Teacher charged with felonies in deaths of two cats in Boca Raton apartment, Sun Sentinel, March 31, 2009 Continue reading

Wilton Manors Criminal Lawyer, Brian S. Leifert has recently learned that Wilton Manors police will begin targeting Jaywalking. That’s right, Jaywalking. Wilton Manors police are taking the issue very seriously as a result of recent increases in pedestrian-related accidents on Wilton Drive which is home to the city’s main entertainment district.

Wilton Manors will be kicking off an enforcement and awareness campaign (“Pedestrian Safety Awareness Blitz”). The City will begin issuing jaywalking citations if the problem persists.

In all the years I have been a Broward criminal lawyer, I’ve never even seen what a jaywalking citation looks like. It’s evidently a rather serious problem in Wilton Manors. In the past year, four pedestrians have been injured and one was killed. Wilton Manors has already been successful in lowering the speed limit on Wilton Drive to 30 mph earlier this year.

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debt_calculators.jpgA Florida woman who was convicted of writing bad checks in 1996 once again faces jail time for failing to pay $240 in leftover court fees and fines. Across the state, courts are stepping up their collections efforts to make up for shrinking budgets.

Court clerks say the pressure is on them to ensure that the state gets every dollar it is owed. In the process, they’ve jailed thousands of people who failed to pay. According to state officials, some clerks use collection agents, and roughly a third use collections courts. In one county over 800 people were arrested last year because of court debts or failure to appear at collections court.

Several other states are looking to Florida as an example, but not everything thinks that squeezing defendants for court fees is a good idea. Rebekah Diller, deputy director of the justice program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law compared the focus on collecting from defendants “to [getting] blood from a stone.”

As Courts Face Cuts, a Push to Squeeze Defendants, New York Times, April 6, 2009 Continue reading

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